Welcome to My Site

If this is your first visit, welcome! This site is devoted to my life experiences as a Filipino-American who immigrated from the Philippines to the United States in 1960. I came to the US as a graduate student when I was 26 years old. I am now in my early-80's and thanks God for his blessings, I have four successful and professional children and six grandchildren here in the US. My wife and I had been enjoying the snow bird lifestyle between US and Philippines after my retirement from USFDA in 2002. Please do not forget to read the latest national and International News in this site . I have also posted some of my favorite Filipino and American dishes and recipes in this site. Some of the photos and videos in this site, I do not own. However, I have no intention on infringing on your copyrights. Cheers!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Forth Worth-Dallas, Texas and Vicinity



One of the perks and benefits working for FDA is attending an annual meeting of the American Chemical Society. In the mid 1990's, I attended one in Forth Worth-Dallas, Texas. This is a part of our continuing education program for chemist reviewers and team leaders. Again, Macrine was not able to join me. I stayed at a Hotel in the Cow Palace Stock Yard in Forth Worth. I did not have a lot of free time to tour the area except for a short visit to The Six Flags for half a day, Mckinney trolley and just drove around the downtown area. Below is a video, a must see if you have never been to Dallas-Forth Worth area.

Dallas is the second largest city in Texas. Together, the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex offers visitors a variety of attractions and activities that simply can't be found elsewhere. From world-class zoos and museums to Texas-sized honky-tonks, the DFW area has it all. The top ten attractions recommended for tourists and visitors in the area are as follows:

1. Six Flags-Open year around, Six Flags Over Texas has been on forefront of them park entertainment for decades and offers rides, shows, and more to Dallas area visitors.

2. Texas Stadium-Home to the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Stadium also hosts a variety of other sporting and entertainment events. However, even when there isn't an event, visitors flock to Texas Stadium for tours.

3. Dallas Zoo-Visit animals from around the world in award winning natural habitats at the Dallas Zoo. During the summer months, visitors can even ride a monorail around the zoo grounds.

4. Dallas Arboretum-Located on White Rock Lake, just outside of downtown Dallas, the Arboretum features colorful gardens all year long. Tours are available daily. The Arboretum is also available for weddings and other private functions.

5. Medieval Times-An 11th-century style castle with a fish-filled moat is just the setting for the unique experience of an evening spent at Medieval Times.

6. McKinney Trolley-Dallas' McKinny Trolley is a historical trolley system, which recreates how a real trolley system of the early to mid-20th century looked and operated.

7. Billy Bob's-With close to 3 acres under one roof, Billy Bob's is certainly "Texas size." The massive nightclub is host to top country music acts, professional bullriding, and plenty of dancing.

8. Sixth Floor Museum-This museum is dedicated to preserving and celebrating information on John F. Kennedy's life, career, assassination and death. Located on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository building - the very spot the sniper's gun was found - the Sixth Floor Museum let's you gain a feel for how things happened in 1963.

9. National Cowgirl Hall of Fame-A one of a kind museum, Fort Worth's National Cowgirl Hall of Fame features exhibits and memorabilia honoring the 'gals of the west.

10. Ft. Worth Zoo-Visitors to the Ft. Worth Zoo will be transfixed by its wonderful exhibits, ranging from Raptor Canyon to Koala Outback, and attractions such as Tasmanian Tower and their virtual safari.

Note: This is No. 26 ( Part 1) of a series of articles on places that I had visited in the US since 1960.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-City of Brotherly Love


Another city that I visited because of an American Chemical Society Meeting was Philadelphia, Pennsylvania way back in the mid 1980's. Again, Macrine was not able to join me, because of conflict on her work schedule. I did enjoy walking and window shopping at South Sreet and Society Hill. I also saw the famous Liberty Bell and Independence Hall and The Statue of Benjamen Franklin. I did enjoyed my 5 days visit of this historic city.
Philadelphia (pronounced /ˌfɪləˈdɛlfiə/) is the largest city in Pennsylvania, sixth-most-populous city in the United States and the fifty-first most populous city in the world. In 2008, the population of the city proper was estimated to be more than 1.54 million, while the Greater Philadelphia metropolitan area's population of 5.8 million made it the country's fifth largest. The city, which lies about 45 miles (72 km) southwest of New York City, is the nation's fourth-largest urban area by population and its fourth-largest consumer media market, as ranked by the Nielsen Media Research.

It is the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. Popular nicknames for Philadelphia include Philly and The City of Brotherly Love, from the literal meaning of the city's name in Greek (Greek: Φιλαδέλφεια (/pʰilaˈdelpʰeːa/, Modern Greek: /filaˈðɛlfia/) "brotherly love", compounded from philos (φίλος) "love", and adelphos (ἀδελφός) "brother").

A commercial, educational, and cultural center, Philadelphia was once the second-largest city in the British Empire(after London), and the social and geographical center of the original 13 American colonies. It was a centerpiece of early American history, host to many of the ideas and actions that gave birth to the American Revolution and Independence. It was the most populous city of the young United States, although by the first census in 1790, New York City had overtaken it. Philadelphia served as one of the nation's many capitals during the Revolutionary War and after. After the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, the city served as the temporary national capital from 1790 to 1800 while Washington, D.C., was under construction. Here's a tour of the city and the Amish country of Lancaster. It will be worth your time to view this video, if you have not been to Philadelphia and surrounding area.

Philadelphia is central to African American history. Many of its larger suburbs such as Chester, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; Camden, New Jersey; and Trenton, New Jersey (sometimes included in the New York metropolitan area) have African American majorities. This community has been large since before the Great Migration, and despite area civil rights gains, continues to be affected by poverty and high crime. The area, in common with most of Pennsylvania, also has a very large population of Italian Americans.

Note: This is No.25( Part 1) of a series of articles on places that the Katague Family had visited or resided in US since 1960.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Boston, Massachussetts and Vicinity


I attended another American Chemical Society Meeting in Boston, MA way back in the late 1970's. This was another city, that Macrine was not able to join me because of her job status. So without Macrine, my fellow FDA employees toured the city and surrounding vicinity before and after our meeting sessions. I did enjoy the historic monuments and antique homes and mansions and partake Maine Lobsters in one of the city famous seafood restaurants. We visited Faneuil Hall, a well-known stop on the Freedom Trail, sometimes called "the Cradle of Liberty" because of its role in the American Revolution. Boston is the city in America that is almost an extension of Europe.
Boston (pronounced /ˈbɒstən/ (help·info)) is the capital and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. Boston city proper had a 2009 estimated population of 645,169, making it the twentieth largest in the country. Boston is also the anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area called Greater Boston, home to 4.5 million people and the tenth-largest metropolitan area in the country. Greater Boston as a commuting region includes six Massachusetts counties, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Plymouth, and Worcester, all of Rhode Island and parts of New Hampshire; it is home to 7.5 million people, making it the fifth-largest Combined Statistical Area in the United States.

Boston shares many cultural roots with greater New England, including a dialect of the non-rhotic Eastern New England accent known as Boston English, and a regional cuisine with a large emphasis on seafood, salt, and dairy products. Irish Americans are a major influence on Boston's politics and religious institutions. Boston also has its own collection of neologisms known as Boston slang.The city has a number of ornate theatres, including the Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston Opera House, Citi Performing Arts Center, the Colonial Theater, and the Orpheum Theatre. Renowned performing-arts organizations include the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Ballet, Boston Early Music Festival, Boston Lyric Opera Company, OperaBoston, and the Handel and Haydn Society (one of the oldest choral companies in the United States). The city is also a major center for contemporary classical music, with a number of performing groups, some of which are associated with the city's conservatories and universities. There are also many major annual events such as First Night, which occurs on New Year's Eve, the annual Boston Arts Festival at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park, Italian summer feasts in the North End honoring Catholic saints, and several events during the Fourth of July period. These events include the week-long Harborfest festivities and a Boston Pops concert accompanied by fireworks on the banks of the Charles River.

Because of the city's prominent role in the American Revolution, several historic sites relating to that period are preserved as part of the Boston National Historical Park. Many are found along the Freedom Trail, which is marked by a red line of bricks embedded in the ground. The city is also home to several prominent art museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. In December 2006, the Institute of Contemporary Art moved from its Back Bay location to a new contemporary building designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro located in the Seaport District. The University of Massachusetts campus at Columbia Point houses the John F. Kennedy Library. The Boston Athenaeum (one of the oldest independent libraries in the United States), Boston Children's Museum, Bull & Finch Pub (whose building is known from the television show Cheers), Museum of Science, and the New England Aquarium are within the city.



Boston has been a noted religious center from its earliest days. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston serves nearly 300 parishes and is based in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross (1875) in the South End, while the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, with the Cathedral Church of St. Paul (1819) as its episcopal seat, serves just under 200 congregations. Two Protestant faiths are headquartered in Boston: Unitarian Universalism, with its headquarters on Beacon Hill, and the Christian Scientists, headquartered in Back Bay at the Mother Church (1894). The oldest church in Boston is King's Chapel, the city's first Anglican church, founded in 1686 and converted to Unitarianism in 1785. Other notable churches include Christ Church (better known as Old North Church, 1723), the oldest church building in the city, Trinity Church (1733), Park Street Church (1809), First Church in Boston (congregation founded 1630, building raised 1868), Old South Church (1874), and Mission Hill's Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (1878).
Here's a video on the sites and sound of this beautiful and historic city.


Note: This is No. 24 (Part 1) of a series of articles on the places that I had visited in the US since 1960.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Favorite and Treasured Classical Pieces


The following four classical pieces are my favorites. Listening to them lowers my blood pressure and relaxes me and I forget all the problems of the world. How about you, do you have any favorite classical music? Does classical music relaxes you?

Tchaikovsky-None But the Lonely Heart


Shoztakovich-Romance (From the Gadfly)


Rachmaninov- Rhapsody from the Theme of Paganini

Chopin Waltz-Grand Valse Brillante

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Orleans, Louisiana and Vicinity


Macrine and I visited New Orleans in the late 1970's during an American Chemical Society Meeting. We stayed at the Hyatt Hotel just across the Louisiana Superdome and Convention Center. During the day, I attend the meeting, but after 5PM we were free to enjoy Bourbon Street and the French Quarters. We also took the bus tour of the city and surrounding areas. We attended a jazz concert. We saw the raised cemetery plots( above-ground tombs), antique homes and shoppes. It was a week to remember. Although, it was not Mardi Gras when we visited the city, there was always a long line during lunch and dinner time. We did enjoy the hurricane rum drinks and the ethnic Creole dishes.

New Orleans has many major attractions, from the world-renowned French Quarter and Bourbon Street's notorious nightlife to St. Charles Avenue (home of Tulane and Loyola Universities, the historic Pontchartrain Hotel, and many 19th century mansions), to Magazine Street, with its many boutique stores and antique shops.
According to current travel guides, New Orleans is one of the top ten most visited cities in the United States; 10.1 million visitors came to New Orleans in 2004, and the city was on pace to break that level of visitation in 2005. Prior to Katrina, there were 265 hotels with 38,338 rooms in the Greater New Orleans Area. In May 2007 there were over 140 hotels and motels in operation with over 31,000 rooms.

A 2009 Travel + Leisure poll of "America's Favorite Cities" ranked New Orleans first in ten categories, the most first-place rankings of the 30 cities included. According to the poll, New Orleans is the best U.S. city as a spring break destination and for "wild weekends," stylish boutique hotels, cocktail hours, singles/bar scenes, live music/conerts and bands, antique and vintage shops, cafés/coffee bars, neighborhood restaurants, and people-watching. The city also ranked second for gay friendliness (behind San Francisco, California), friendliness (behind Charleston, South Carolina), bed and bath hotels and inns, and ethnic food. However the city was voted last in terms of active residents and near the bottom in cleanliness, safety, and as a family destination.

The French Quarter (known locally as "the Quarter" or Vieux Carré), which dates from the French and Spanish eras and is bounded by the Mississippi River, Rampart Street, Canal Street, and Esplanade Avenue, contains many popular hotels, bars, and nightclubs. Notable tourist attractions in the Quarter include Bourbon Street, Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, the French Market (including Café du Monde, famous for café au lait and beignets) and Preservation Hall. To tour the port, one can ride the Natchez, an authentic steamboat with a calliope, which cruises the Mississippi the length of the city twice daily. The city's many beautiful cemeteries and their distinct above-ground tombs are often attractions in themselves, the oldest and most famous of which, Saint Louis Cemetery, greatly resembles Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

Also located in the French Quarter is the old New Orleans Mint, a former branch of the United States Mint, which now operates as a museum, and The Historic New Orleans Collection, a museum and research center housing art and artifacts relating to the history of New Orleans and the Gulf South. The National World War II Museum, opened in the Warehouse District in 2000 as the "National D-Day Museum", is dedicated to providing information and materials related to the Invasion of Normandy. Nearby, Confederate Memorial Hall, the oldest continually operating museum in Louisiana (although under renovation since Katrina), contains the second-largest collection of Confederate memorabilia in the world. Art museums in the city include the Contemporary Arts Center, the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) in City Park, and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

New Orleans also boasts a decidedly natural side. It is home to the Audubon Nature Institute (which consists of Audubon Park, the Audubon Zoo, the Aquarium of the Americas, and the Audubon Insectarium), as well as gardens that include Longue Vue House and Gardens and the New Orleans Botanical Garden. City Park, one of the country's most expansive and visited urban parks, has one of the largest (if not the largest) stands of oak trees in the world. There are also various points of interest in the surrounding areas. Many wetlands are in close proximity to the city, including Honey Island Swamp. Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemetery, located just south of the city, is the site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans.

New Orleans is almost synonymous to Hurricane Katrina(2005). New Orleans was catastrophically impacted by the failure of the Federal levee system during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. By the time the hurricane approached the city at the end of August 2005, most residents had evacuated. As the hurricane passed through the Gulf Coast region, the city's federal flood protection system failed, resulting in the worst civil engineering disaster in American history. Floodwalls and levees constructed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers failed below design specifications and 80% of the city flooded. Tens of thousands of residents who had remained in the city were rescued or otherwise made their way to shelters of last resort at the Louisiana Superdome or the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. Over 1,500 people died in Louisiana and some are still unaccounted for. Hurricane Katrina called for the first mandatory evacuation in the city's history, the second of which came 3 years later with Hurricane Gustav.

Note: This is No.23 (Part 1) of a series of articles that the Katague Family had visited in the US since 1960.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

San Antonio, Texas and The Alamo


I attended an American Chemical Society Meeting in San Antonio in the mid 1980's. Macrine was not able to join me because of her new job as a visiting nurse. At that time the Tower of Americas was still on the planning stage. I stayed in the Alamo Victorian Hotel next door to the Alamo. All our meetings were in the Convention Center, just a walking distance from my hotel. I enjoy the River Walk and the River Rides. San Antonio reminds me of Venice, Italy. I love San Antonio and would not mind visiting it again.

The City of San Antonio (pronounced /ˌsænænˈtoʊni.oʊ/) is the second-largest city in the American state of Texas and the seventh-largest city in the United States, with a population of 1.4 million. The city is the seat of Bexar County. Located in the American Southwest and the northern part of South Texas, San Antonio is the center of Tejano culture and Texas tourism. The city is characteristic of other Southwest urban centers in which there are sparsely populated areas and a low density rate outside of the city. It was the fourth-fastest growing large city in the nation from 2000 to 2006 and the fifth-fastest-growing from 2007 to 2008. The San Antonio–New Braunfels metropolitan area has a population of nearly 2.1 million based on the 2009 U.S. Census estimate, making it the 28th-largest metropolitan area in the U.S and third in Texas.

The city was named for the Portuguese St. Anthony, whose feast day is on June 13, when a Spanish expedition stopped in the area in 1691. Famous for Spanish missions, the Alamo, the River Walk, the Tower of the Americas, the Alamo Bowl, and host to SeaWorld and Six Flags Fiesta Texas theme parks, the city is visited by approximately 26 million tourists per year according to the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau. The city is home to the four-time NBA champion San Antonio Spurs and the annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, one of the largest in the country.
San Antonio has a strong military presence—it is home to Fort Sam Houston, Lackland Air Force Base, Randolph Air Force Base, and Brooks City-Base, with Camp Bullis and Camp Stanley outside the city. Kelly Air Force Base operated out of San Antonio until 2001, when the airfield was transferred over to Lackland AFB and the remaining portions of the base became Port San Antonio, an industrial/business park. San Antonio is home to five Fortune 500 companies and to the South Texas Medical Center, the only medical research and care provider in the South Texas region.

Here's a scene from the movie "The Alamo". I love the violin solo in this scene.


San Antonio is synonymous to the Alamo. It is a must visit for all tourists to the City. More than 2.5 million people a year visit the 4.2 acre complex known worldwide as "The Alamo." Most come to see the old mission where a small band of Texans held out for thirteen days against the Centralist army of General Antonio López de Santa Anna. Although the Alamo fell in the early morning hours of March 6, 1836, the death of the Alamo Defenders has come to symbolize courage and sacrifice for the cause of Liberty. The memories of James Bowie, David Crockett, and William B. Travis are as powerful today as when the Texan Army under Sam Houston shouted "Remember the Alamo!" as it routed Santa Anna at the battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. The Alamo has been managed by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas since 1905. Located on Alamo Plaza in downtown San Antonio, Texas, the Alamo represents nearly 300 years of history. Three buildings - the Shrine, Long Barrack Museum and Gift Museum - house exhibits on the Texas Revolution and Texas History. Visitors are welcome to stroll through the beautiful Alamo Gardens. Just a short distance from the River Walk, the Alamo is a "must see" for all who come to San Antonio.

Note: This is No.22 (Part 1) of a series of articles of the places that I have visited in the US since 1960.

Monday, October 25, 2010

One week of Summer Vacation in Ocean City, Maryland


Due to the proximity of Ocean City from our residence in Colesville, MD(less than 2hours drive), It was a pleasure taking one week of our summer vacation to this beach town when I was still working at FDA. We rented a one bedroom condo owned by a co-worker in FDA. It was a relaxing week and we got to see the surrounding vicinity including the wild horses of Assataugue Island and drove up north to Bethany Beach, Delaware. On our way from Colesvilles, we stopped at the beautiful towns of Easton and Cambrigde for a brief sightseeing tour of the antique homes.


We enjoyed the board walk and the beach and feasted on Maryland Crabs. Eating Maryland crabs is hard work if you are used to eating Dungeness crabs of San Francisco. But the Maryland crab's meat is sweeter and tastier than the Dungeness meat which reminds me of the crabs in Iloilo, Philippines where I grew up. If you like to play golf, Ocean City is the place for you. Here's a video about the sights and sounds and things to do in Ocean City.


Ocean City, sometimes known as OC, or OCMD, is an Atlantic Ocean resort town in Worcester County, Maryland, United States. Ocean City is widely known in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and is a frequent destination for vacationers in that area. The population was 7,173 at the 2000 census, although during summer weekends the city hosts between 320,000 and 345,000 vacationers.

Today, the Ocean City area continues to sprawl westward across the bay and toward Berlin and Ocean Pines. It is part of the Ocean Pines Micropolitan Statistical Area. The resort area now accommodates hundreds of thousands of vacationers a year.
Ocean City now extends just over 9 miles (~15 km) from the southern inlet to the Delaware line. The strip now supports hotels, motels, apartment houses, shopping centers, residential communities, and condominiums. The southern tip houses the Ocean City Boardwalk. The boardwalk is the main shopping district and entertainment area of the town. The boardwalk has many prominent businesses including Fisher's Caramel Popcorn & Thrashers French Fries. Other notable boardwalk businesses are Dollies Salt Water Taffy, the Atlantic Stand & Dumser's Dairyland. The Boardwalk has two amusement parks, Trimpers Rides and The Pier, which was recently renamed Jolly Roger at The Pier, after its sister uptown local amusement park. The downtown neighborhood is marked by Victorian style houses and other older buildings, many of which have been razed in recent years to construct more parking lots, hotels and condos.

The firefighter memorial is located on the boardwalk. Ocean City has a long history of fishing, both commercial and recreational. The town bills itself as the "White Marlin Capital of the World." During the summer numerous charter and private boats fish for billfish, tuna, wahoo, and other game fish. In early August, one of the largest fishing tournaments in the world, the White Marlin Open, is held. Prize money for the largest White Marlin, Blue Marlin, and Tuna can range over 1 million dollars.
Aerial View of Ocean City, Maryland
The town supports a year-round population of about 8,000, with the town itself being a major employer. Summer employment in Ocean City rises many multiples above that level, supported by a large number of college-age and young adults - many native to Eastern Europe and the United Kingdom - attracted by numerous job opportunities. In the summer, businesses and government agencies are augmented with about 100 seasonal police officers, plus extra firefighters and other workers.

Tourism in the winter has picked up pace. Where once even many traffic lights were shut down or bagged up, increased traffic from golfers and Ocean City Convention Center conventions has convinced many seasonal restaurants and hotels to remain open. Many bars and restaurants that close during the winter re-open for St. Patrick's Day.
The Board Walk
The city has erected a memorial to the firefighters who lost their lives on September 11. This memorial is located on the boardwalk, about six blocks from the inlet. The memorial consists of a firefighter statue, engraved brick and stone, and a piece of one of the twin towers that collapsed in New York City.

Note: This is No.21 ( Part 1) of a series of articles on the places that the Katague Family had resided or visited in the US since 1960.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wine Tasting Escapade to Napa Valley



Macrine and I had driven a number relatives from the Philippines to the Napa Valley a couple of times when we were still residing in Pinole, CA in the late 1980's. We have been to a few wineries but the top ten we enjoyed most are as follows: Here are the name of the wineries, telephone numbers, address, time of operation and other details, just in case you have the urge for a wine tasting escapade in the Napa Valley. View this video first, before you read my top ten wineries.

1. Beringer Vineyards tel. +1 707.963.4812 2000 Main Street St. Helena, CA 94574
Tasting Room - Yes hrs: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm Cost: $ $5 - $20

2. Black Stallion Winery tel. +1 888-BSW-NAPA 4089 Silverado Trail Napa, CA 94558
Tasting Room - Yes hrs: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm Cost: $ $10; Reserve $30
Two for One Tasting Coupon!

3. Mumm Napa tel. +1 707.967.7700 tel. +1 800.686.6272 8445 Silverado Trail Rutherford, CA 94573 Tasting Room - Yes hrs: 10:00 am - 4:45 pm Cost: $ $6 to $25
VIP Pass-2 for 1 Tour
The Wine Enthusiast Magazine calls Mumm Napa one of "America's Best Tasting Rooms". noted for outstanding sparkling wines, friendly staff, and photography galleries.

4. Silverado Vineyards tel. +1 707.257.1770 tel. +1 800.997.1770 6121 Silverado Trail Napa, CA 94558 Tasting Room - Yes hrs: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cost: $ Varies

5. Domaine Carneros by Taittinger tel. +1 707.257.0101 1240 Duhig Road Napa, CA 94559
Tasting Room - Yes hrs: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm Cost: $ $7.00 and up

6. Domaine Chandon tel. +1 707.944.8844 tel. +1 800-736-2892 One California Drive Yountville, CA 94599 Tasting Room - Yes hrs: 10:00 am 6:00 pm Cost: $ $16 & Members Free

7. Louis M. Martini Winery tel. +1 707.968.3361 tel. +1 800.321. WINE 254 S. St. Helena Hwy St. Helena, CA 94574 Tasting Room - Yes hrs: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Cost: $ $15-$30 Members Free

8. Robert Mondavi Winery tel. +1 707.968.2001 tel. +1 1-888-766-6328 ext 1 or 2
7801 St. Helena Highway Oakville, CA 94562
Tasting Room - Yes hrs: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm Cost: $ $15-$30
Complimentary Tasting Offer

9. Sterling Vineyards tel. +1 707.942.3344 tel. +1 800.726.6136
1111 Dunaweal Lane Calistoga, CA 94515 Tasting Room - Yes hrs: 10:30 am - 5:00 pm
Cost: $ 30 Resrve;$35-40 VIP
Discount Passport-$5 off

10. William Hill Estate Winery tel. +1 707 265 3024 1761 Atlas Peak Road Napa, CA 94558 Tasting Room - Yes hrs: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm Cost: $ $12-25, members free
2 for 1 Tasting Flight Coupon



Napa County is a county located north of the San Francisco Bay Area in the U.S. state of California. It is coterminous with the Napa, California, Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of 2000 the population is 124,279. The county seat is Napa. Napa County was one of the original counties of California, created in 1850 at the time of statehood. Parts of the county's territory were given to Lake County in 1861. The word napa is of Native American derivation and has been variously translated as "grizzly bear", "house", "motherland", and "fish". Of the many explanations of the name's origin, the most plausible seems to be that it is derived from the Patwin word napo meaning house, although local residents will often cite an urban legend that gives the translation as "you will always return".

Napa County, once the producer of many different crops, is known today for its wine industry, rising in the 1960s to the first rank of wine regions with France, Italy, and Spain.

Note: This is No.20 ( Part 1) of the series of articles that Macrine and I had visited or resided here in US since 1960.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Williamsburg, Virginia Beach and Vicinity



We visited Williamsburg and Virginia Beach via Our International Interval Vacation Exchange Program in the mid 1990's. One day in Colonial Williamsburgh was not enough. This historic area is a must visit for history enthusiasts and students of US history. It is the biggest living museum in the US.

Williamsburg is well-known for Colonial Williamsburg, the restored Historic Area of the city, and for the adjacent College of William & Mary, established in 1693, the second-oldest university in the United States. Nearby, and established in 1770, the predecessor of the current Eastern State Hospital is considered to have been the earliest mental hospital in the United States.

The Historic Triangle of Virginia, which also includes Jamestown and Yorktown, is among the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with Williamsburg located in the center. The three are linked by the National Park Service's Colonial Parkway, a 23-mile-long (37 km) National Scenic Byway which is carefully shielded from views of commercial development. The toll-free Jamestown Ferry is located at the southern end of the Colonial Parkway. State Route 5, another scenic byway, links Williamsburg and Richmond. Here's a video about this living museum.



Most highway travelers reach Williamsburg via nearby Interstate 64, U.S. Route 60, and State Route 143, each major east-west highways. Commercial airline service is available at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (20 miles), and at Richmond and Norfolk airports (both 55 miles away). All are located along I-64 and offer limousine service to Williamsburg, as well as rental cars.



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Virginia Beach is the easternmost city of Hampton Roads that make up the core of the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA. This area, known as "America's First Region", also includes the independent cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, as well as other smaller cities, counties and towns of Hampton Roads.

Virginia Beach is a resort city with miles of beaches and hundreds of hotels, motels, and restaurants along its oceanfront. Every year the city hosts the East Coast Surfing Championships as well as the North American Sand Soccer Championship, a beach soccer tournament. It is also home to several state parks, several long-protected beach areas, three military bases, a number of large corporations, two universities, and numerous historic sites. Near the point where the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean meet, Cape Henry was the site of the first landing of the English colonists, who eventually settled in Jamestown, on April 26, 1607.

The city is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as having the longest pleasure beach in the world. It is located at the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, the longest bridge-tunnel complex in the world.

Here's a short video taken on the Virginia Beach Board Walk areas. I love this Board Walk (not commercialized) a lot than the one in Atlantic City, New Jersey or Santa Cruz, California.



Note: This is No.19( Part 1) of a series of articles that the Katague Family had visited or resided in US since 1960.

Friday, October 22, 2010

North Carolina Outer Banks and Vicinity


Macrine and I spent a weekend in Nags Heads, North Carolina in the mid 1990's. A couple friend from Washington,D.C. invited us to their summer home one weekend. We drove all the way to the Cape Hatteras Light House and on the way we passed by Virginia Beach. We also visited the Wright Brothers museum and also the Graveyard of the Atlantic museum. It was a fun sight seeing trip although it took us about six hours drive from our house in Colsville, Maryland. The weather was perfect since there was no hurricane warning at the time of our visit.

The Outer Banks (also known as OBX) is a 200-mile (320-km) long string of narrow barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina, beginning in the southeastern corner of Virginia Beach on the east coast of the United States. They cover approximately half the northern North Carolina coastline, separating the Currituck Sound, Albemarle Sound, and Pamlico Sound from the Atlantic Ocean.

The Outer Banks is a major tourist destination and is known for its temperate climate and wide expanse of open beachfront. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore has four campgrounds where visitors may camp.

The Wright brothers' first flight in a powered, heavier-than-air vehicle took place on the Outer Banks on December 17, 1903, at Kill Devil Hills near the seafront town of Kitty Hawk. The Wright Brothers National Monument commemorates the historic flights, and First Flight Airport is a small, general-aviation airfield located there.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
The treacherous seas off the Outer Banks and the large number of shipwrecks that have occurred there have given these seas the nickname Graveyard of the Atlantic. The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum is located in Hatteras Village near the United States Coast Guard facility and Hatteras ferry.

Geography

The Outer Banks is a series of islands: from north to south — Bodie Island, Roanoke Island, Hatteras Island, and Ocracoke Island. The Outer Banks is considered to be the areas of coastal Currituck County, Dare County, and Hyde County. Some consider the Outer Banks to stretch as far south as Cape Lookout including portions of Carteret County. Areas south of Cape Lookout in Carteret County are considered the Crystal Coast, which for tourism purposes has been coined the "Southern Outer Banks", but geographically is generally not considered part of the Outer Banks. The northern part of the Outer Banks, from Oregon Inlet northward, is usually considered part of the North American mainland, although it is technically separated by the Intracoastal Waterway, which passes through the Great Dismal Swamp occupying much of the mainland west of the Outer Banks. Road access to the northern Outer Banks ends in Corolla, North Carolina, with communities such as Carova Beach accessible only by four-wheel drive vehicles. North Carolina State Highway 12 links most of the popular Outer Banks communities. The easternmost point is Cape Point at Cape Hatteras on Hatteras Island, site of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
Typical Vacation House in Nags Head, North Carolina

The Outer Banks is not anchored to offshore coral reefs like some other barrier islands and as a consequence often suffers significant beach erosion during major storms. In fact, its location jutting out into the Atlantic makes it the most hurricane-prone area north of Florida, for both landfalling storms and brushing storms offshore. Hatteras Island was cut in half on September 18, 2003, when Hurricane Isabel washed a 3,000 foot (900 m) wide and 30 foot (9 m) deep channel called Isabel Inlet through the community of Hatteras Village on the southern end of the island. The tear was subsequently repaired and restored by sand dredging by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Note: This is No. 18 ( Part 1) of a series of articles on places that the Katague Family had visited or resided in US since 1960.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

History of the World-Part 1 Movie by Mel Brooks


It is time for nostalgia. I have seen this movie and I enjoyed it very much, I decided to share it with you, just in case you have not seen it. Part 2 to 9 and the musical Inquisition are in the related videos in the Part 1.

History of the World, Part I is a 1981 film written, produced and directed by Mel Brooks. As he does in many of his other films, Brooks also gives himself a great deal of time in front of the camera, this time playing five roles: Moses, Comicus the stand-up philosopher, Tomás de Torquemada, King Louis XVI, and Jacques, le garçon de pisse. The large ensemble cast also features Sid Caesar, Shecky Greene, Gregory Hines (in his film debut), Charlie Callas; and Brooks regulars Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman, Andreas Voutsinas, and influential Irish comedy writer/actor and former Goon Show star Spike Milligan. The film also has cameo appearances by Royce D. Applegate, Bea Arthur, Hugh Hefner, John Hurt (as Jesus Christ), Barry Levinson, Jackie Mason, Paul Mazursky, Andrew Sachs and Henny Youngman, among many others. Orson Welles narrates the film, and briefly appears on screen in that capacity. Despite carrying the title Part 1, this movie does not come with a sequel.


Plot
The film’s story is a parody of the “historical spectacular” film genre, including the “sword and sandal epic” and the “period costume drama” sub-genres. The four main segments of the film consist of stories set during the Dawn of Man, the Roman Empire, the Spanish Inquisition, and the French Revolution. The film also contains several other intermediate skits including reenactments of the giving of the Ten Commandments and the Last Supper.

The Dawn of Man
A group of cavemen (led by Sid Caesar) depict the invention of fire, the first marriages (the first “Homo sapiens” marriage which was swiftly followed by the first homosexual marriage), the first artist (which in turn gives rise to the first critic), and early attempts at comedy and music, by smashing each other's feet with rocks and thus creating an orchestra of screams.
[edit] The Old Testament

Moses (Mel Brooks) is shown coming down from Mount Sinai after receiving the Law from God (the voice of an uncredited Carl Reiner). When announcing the giving of the reception of the law to the people, Moses proclaims “The Lord Jehovah has given unto you these fifteen...” (whereupon he drops one of the tablets, which promptly shatters) “Oy...Ten! Ten Commandments! For all to obey!”

The Roman Empire

Comicus (Brooks again), a stand-up philosopher, acquires a gig at Caesar's palace. En route to the palace Comicus meets and falls in love with a Vestal Virgin named Miriam (Mary-Margaret Humes) and befriends an Ethiopian slave named Josephus (Gregory Hines). Josephus is conscripted into the service of the Empress Nympho (Madeline Kahn). Comicus' arrival at Caesar's palace was filmed at the Caesars Palace hotel in Las Vegas.

At the Palace, Emperor Caesar (Dom DeLuise) listens to Comicus’ performance. Comicus soon forgets his audience and begins to joke about Caesar's obesity and corruption. Josephus absentmindedly pours a jug of wine into the emperor’s lap and Caesar orders Josephus and Comicus to fight to the death in a gladiatorial manner. They fight their way out of the palace, assisted in their escape by Miriam, Empress Nympho and a horse named Miracle.

The group is chased by several Roman soldiers. Josephus instructs them to pull over and requests lots of papyrus. He takes 'Roman Red' marijuana growing alongside the road and rolls it into the papyrus, forming a device he calls Mighty Joint, sets fire to it and mounts it to the back of their chariot trailing smoke into the chasing army. The resulting smoke causes the trailing Roman army to appear confused and incapacitated. The group then sets sail from the port to Judea. While waiting tables at a restaurant, Comicus blunders into a private room where the Last Supper is taking place, interrupting Jesus (John Hurt) repeatedly. Eventually Leonardo da Vinci (Art Metrano) arrives to paint the group’s portrait. Dissatisfied that he can only see the backs of half of their heads, he has them move to one side of the table.

The Spanish Inquisition

The Spanish Inquisition segment is performed in the style of a grandiose Busby Berkeley production. The segment is one long song-and-dance number featuring Brooks as the infamous Torquemada. The segment opens with a herald introducing Torquemada and making a play on his name, noting that despite the pleas for mercy from the condemned, that you "can't Torquemada anything" (talk him outta anything). Several instances of "comical" torture are shown including a spinning iron maiden and "water torture" re-imagined as an Esther Williams-style aquatic ballet. Jackie Mason has a cameo in this scene as a Jewish torture victim.

The French Revolutionn

In the tavern of Madame Defarge (Cloris Leachman) she incites a mob to plot the French Revolution. Meanwhile, King Louis of France (Brooks again) is warned by his advisor, the Count de Monet (Harvey Korman), with the news that the peasants do not think he likes them—a suspicion reinforced by the king's use of peasants as clay pigeons in a murderous game of skeet. A beautiful woman, Mademoiselle Rimbaud (Pamela Stephenson), asks him to free her father, who has been imprisoned in the Bastille for 10 years. He agrees to the pardon under the condition that she have sex with him that night.

De Monet manages to convince the king that he needs to go into hiding and that they will need a stand-in to pretend to be him. Thus Jacques (also Brooks), the garçon de pisse is chosen to impersonate the real king. Later that night, Mlle Rimbaud, unaware of the subterfuge, arrives and offers herself to the piss-boy dressed as the king. As she invites him to take her virginity, he pardons her father without requiring the sexual favors. After Mlle Rimbaud and her senile father (Spike Milligan) return from the prison, the peasants burst into the room and capture the piss-boy “king” and Mlle Rimbaud. They are taken to the guillotine, where just as Jacques is about to be beheaded, Miracle suddenly arrives, drawing a cart with Josephus driving. They are saved, riding away in the cart. The last shot is of the party approaching a mountain carved with the words “THE END.”

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Miami Beach, Florida

Miami South Beach on a typical Winter Day
Macrine and I had been to Miami Beach twice in the early 1980's during the American Chemical Society Meeting. We stayed at the well-known Fontainebleau Hotel. One evening there was a dance contest. We participated and won 3rd place in the CHA CHA. We also toured the Deco District and South Beach described in detail below.

Miami Beach is a city in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States. The city was incorporated on March 26, 1915. It is located on a barrier island between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean; the Bay separates Miami Beach from the city of Miami, Florida. The city is often referred to under the umbrella term of "Miami", despite being a distinct municipality. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 87,933. 55.5% of the population was foreign born. A 2005 population estimate for the city was 87,925. Miami Beach has been one of America's pre-eminent beach resorts for almost a century.
The Fontainebleau Hotel and Resort

In 1979 Miami Beach's Art Deco Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Art Deco District is the largest collection of Art Deco architecture in the world and comprises hundreds of hotels, apartments and other structures erected between 1923 and 1943. Mediterranean, Streamline Moderne and Art Deco are all represented in the District. The Historic District is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the East, Lenox Court on the West, 6th Street on the South and Dade Boulevard along the Collins Canal to the North. The movement to preserve the Art Deco District's architectural heritage was led by former interior designer Barbara Capitman, who now has a street in the District named in her honor.

Image and cultural depictions

South Beach (also known as SoBe, or simply The Beach, the area from 1st street to about 25th street) is one of the more popular areas of Miami Beach. Topless sunbathing is legal on certain designated areas of the beach. Before the TV show Miami Vice helped make the area popular, SoBe was under urban blight, with vacant buildings and a high crime rate. Today, it is considered one of the richest commercial areas on the beach, yet poverty and crime still remain in some places near the area. Miami Beach, particularly Ocean Drive of what is now the Art Deco District, was also featured prominently in the 1983 feature film Scarface and The Birdcage. The New World Symphony Orchestra is based in Miami Beach, Florida, under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.

Lincoln Road, running east-west between 16th and 17th Streets, is a nationally known spot for great outdoor dining, bicycling, rollerblading and shopping and features and galleries of well known designers, artists and photographers such as Romero Britto, Peter Lik, and Jonathan Adler.

Jewish population

Miami Beach is home to a number of Orthodox Jewish communities with a network of well-established synagogues and yeshivas, in addition to a liberal Jewish community containing such famous synagogues as Temple Emanu-El (Miami Beach, Florida) and Cuban Hebrew Congregation. It is also a magnet for Jewish families, retirees, and particularly snowbirds when the cold winter sets in to the north. They range from the Modern Orthodox to the Haredi and Hasidic – including many rebbes who vacation there during the North American winter.

There are a number of kosher restaurants and even kollels for post-graduate Talmudic scholars, such as the Miami Beach Community Kollel. Miami Beach had roughly 60,000 people in Jewish households, 62 percent of the total population, in 1982, but only 16,500, or 19 percent of the population, in 2004, said Ira Sheskin, a demographer at the University of Miami who conducts surveys once a decade. Miami Beach is home to the Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach.

LGBT Community
The gay community in Miami Beach has dramatically deteriorated over the years. By 2010, most LGBT populations moved up north into Broward County.[9] Random anti-gay attacks and Miami Beach Police brutality against gay men are the most recent evident factors attributing to the exodus of LGBT culture, residents, and tourists. Ironically a new gay friendly mayor, Matti Herrera Bower, came together with increased corruption and homophobia in the city's police department. Also, since the new mayor took office in 2007, an ordinance to close parks and beaches where gay men congregate was executed, which led to an ongoing harassment of single men in general. As a result, Miami Beach male tourists regardless of sexual orientation have been increasingly becoming targets for the Miami Beach Police Department, resulting in wrongful arrests and deaths. In 2005, a local gay friendly radio station, Party 93.1 FM changed its format from dance to rock. As a result, Issues Over the Rainbow, South Florida's only gay-oriented FM talk show was cancelled. Gone along with the show – the station's sponsorships of the Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival; Care Resource's annual White Party gala to fight AIDS; and Winter Party, a five-day fundraiser in early March that benefits South Florida gay charities. In February 2010, ACLU announced that it will sue the City of Miami Beach for an ongoing targeting and arrests of gay men in public. According to the ACLU, Miami Beach has a history of arresting gay men for simply looking "too gay".

Other Information

According to the Morgan Quitno Awards, Miami Beach is one of the most dangerous small cities (population between 75,000 and 99,999) in the country. Each December, The city plays host to the major contemporary art exhibition Art Basel Miami Beach. In November 2007 and 2009, a multi-media art festival ("Sleepless Night") was held based on Nuit Blanche.[

Climate-Similar to the Philippines

It has a tropical monsoon climate with hot humid summers and warm winters like the Philippines. There is a marked wet season during the summer months, with dry winters that feature much lower humidity. Miami Beach is one of only a handful of U.S. locales that has never recorded snow or snow flurries in recorded weather history.

Miami Beach's location on the Atlantic Ocean, near its confluence with the Gulf of Mexico make it extraordinarily vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms. Despite only experiencing one direct hit from a major hurricane in recorded weather history, (Hurricane Cleo in 1964), the area has seen indirect contact from hurricanes Betsy (1965), Andrew (1992), Irene (1999), Michelle (2001), Katrina (2005), and Wilma (2005). Miami's Beach reminds of the Philippines.

Note: This No.17 (Part 1) of a series of articles on places that the Katague Family had visited or resided in the US since 1960.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Top Ten Broadway Musicals


My wife and my favorite hobby during our working years (1960-2002) was attending Broadway musicals and shows/movies. We must have attended more than 30 Broadway shows/movies since 1960. Among our favorites ( not listed in the top ten below) were, The Sound of Music, Chorus Line, West Side Story, South Pacific, Bye Bye Birdie, Miss Saigon, Show Boat, Oklahoma, My Fair Lady, Evita, Flower Drum Song, Guys and Dolls, Gypsy, Hair, Kiss Me Kate, Man of La Mancha, The Music Man, Oliver and The King and I. Miss Saigon we saw in London. West Side Story and Rent in New York. Mama Mia in Las Vegas, Phantom of the Opera( the old movie version)/ at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC and the rest either in Kansas City, Chicago or San Francisco.

To see a Broadway play or musical is to step into a world that envelops you with an experience you cannot find anywhere else. Theatre has been around since ancient times and for good reason. There is absolutely nothing like watching the actors, hearing the live musical scores and going on a journey with fellow theatre-goers. It makes movies seem like flimsy comic books in comparison. Fortunately, today there are many excellent shows on Broadway and in major cities across North America.

The following list is the top ten best musical shows( 2007) you might consider attending with a date or a friend. Each one of these must-see shows delivers an experience you won't soon forget.

Broadway's Best:

1. One of the most popular mega-hits of Broadway is Wicked. Wicked is a musical taking the witches from the Wizard of Oz and recasting them to reverse the loyalties the audience feels in the movie. The play follows the women from school to their eventual fates. The emerald skinned Elphaba, studious and misunderstood, and the beautiful and ambitious Glinda, as they move from unlikely friends to the classic opponents of the movie. The magic lies in the witty recasting of the backstory of the Wizard of Oz, to challenge assumptions and present a tale of friendship and love. And now Wicked is touring the U.S., so there's a good chance it's showing in a city near you.

2. A relatively new show called Tarzan, is a musical about a baby raised by gorillas as he encounters humans, and Jane, forcing him to choose between his two heritages. Tarzan is very popular, with many theatergoers looking forward to seeing the Disney version brought to stage. A show for all ages, the search for where one belongs in the world is a weighty subject for such a deceptively light show. Phil Collins extended his musical score from the Disney movie into a complete theatrical score.

3. The Lion King is a musical about Simba the lion cub and his journey to adulthood and acceptance as King. A play for all ages, the story of a youth growing to accept responsibility and duty is one of the most enduring themes in fiction. The animal puppetry is nothing less than brilliant. If you're looking to instill a little culture in your child, this may be just the ticket. And again, The Lion King is showing in many cities.

4. A disfigured musical genius haunts a theatre and exerts a mysterious control over a young singer. The Phantom of the Opera is a modern classic musical, long-standing show and one of the most well known Broadway plays of the era. The classic music of the show is one of the main draws, with more than one piece from this show recognizable to almost any adult. This is the longest running play in Broadway history, and made Andrew Lloyd Webber a household name. Phantom of the Opera has played in 22 countries, 113 cities and to a combined audience of 10 million.

5. Les Miserables is a musical based on the classic novel of the same name, in which the obsessed policeman Javert pursues the prison escapee Jean Valjean over decades in Revolutionary France. A classic tale of obsession and redemption, this play investigates the big questions like right and wrong, vengeance and justice, and what it takes to achieve redemption, while putting a human face on the issues. Les Miserable originally ran on Broadway for sixteen years, and is back with a fresh cast to renew the magic.

6. Spamalot is based on the legendary Monty Python and the Holy Grail, featuring King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table as they face such dangers as the dreaded bunny rabbit. The occasionally eccentric Monty Python sense of humor is in full fury in this tale, with jabs at politics, religion, chivalry, bravery, intelligence and the French. There are limbless knights, men in tights and a chorus line of dancing divas. Spamalot is a favorite of audiences and critics alike, and won the 2005 Tony for Best Musical. If you liked the Monty Python's TV show and movies, then this musical will sure to please.

7. Chicago the Musical is another famous musical, in this case about a murder trial. The Fosse choreography is iconic. While the music isn't as iconic as some others, the odds are that most will recognize several pieces they've heard before, such as "Razzle-Dazzle" and "All that Jazz." Chicago returns us to the time of Vaudeville, satirizes the justice system and shows us what great theater is all about. Definitely check this show out of you liked the movie starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger and Richard Gere.

8. Rags to rock to riches, Jersey Boys is the musical story of four blue-collar boys who become the Four Tops. It follows them from their start in the Hood to their apotheosis as one of the greatest music groups of all time, with emphasis on the characters involved. This show has really taken off and become unexpectedly popular on Broadway. Now the Jersey Boys is touring America.

9. Mamma Mia! is a musical built around Abba staples of the seventies, dealing with a single mother whose daughter is about to get married on a Greek island. The daughter invites three of her mother's old boyfriends to visit, hoping to find out which one her father is. The play is built around Abba music, but is an engaging story in its own right and is advanced by the music rather than providing an excuse for it. This is a play where almost everyone attending knows the music.

10. Rent is a musical that explores poverty, disease, and drugs in New York City. It's a modern rock version of the 19th century Italian opera "La Boheme," and is set in New York City's East Village. It is a moving musical where young people strive to make it in a difficult world.


In the above top ten list, we have seen only four as a live show, Lion King, Phantom of the Opera, Rent and Mama Mia
We saw Chicago and Les Miserables as movies. Lion King we saw in Sacramento, Mama Mia and Phantom of the Opera in Las Vegas and Rent in New York City. We missed attending musicals and plays in our retirement years. However, I have a DVD collections of more than 50 Broadway musical and plays that I could watch anytime.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Disney World, Orlando, Florida


We visited Disney World in Orlando, Florida in the Late 1980's during an American Chemical Society Meeting.


Magic Kingdom theme park, one of 4 Theme Parks in Walt Disney World Resort, captures the enchantment of fairy tales with exciting entertainment, classic attractions, backstage tours and beloved Disney Characters.

Designed like a wheel with the hub in front of Cinderella Castle, pathways spoke out across the 107 acres of Magic Kingdom theme park and lead to these 7 whimsical lands:

•Main Street, U.S.A.® area
•Adventureland® area
•Frontierland® area
•Liberty Square
•Fantasyland® area
•Mickey's Toontown® Fair area
•Tomorrowland® area
The fireworks in Disney World is comparable to the Fireworks during July 4th in the Mall in Washington, D.C.



Note: This No.16 (Part 1) of a series of articles on the places that the Katague family had resided or visited in the US since 1960.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fresno Underground Gardens, Sequoia and King Canyon National Parks

General Sherman Tree
In the mid 1970's, while still residing in Modesto, the David Katague Family visited Sequoia and the adjacent King's Canyon National Parks. We saw the giant trees including the General Sherman tree- the largest tree on Earth. On our way back we stopped in downtown Fresno to tour the Forestier Underground Gardens. I enjoyed this tour very much since I an a avid gardener. If you have not visited Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park and you live in the Central Valley of California, you are missing some wonders of nature and I suggest put it in your schedule next summer.

Sequoia National Park is a national park in the southern Sierra Nevada, east of Visalia, California, in the United States of America. It was established on September 25, 1890. The park spans 404,051 acres (1,635 km2). Encompassing a vertical relief of nearly 13,000 feet (4,000 m), the park contains among its natural resources the highest point in the contiguous 48 United States, Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet (4,421 m) above sea level. The park is south of and contiguous with Kings Canyon National Park; the two are administered by the National Park Service together.

The park is famous for its Giant Sequoia trees, including the General Sherman tree, the largest tree on Earth. The General Sherman tree grows in the Giant Forest, which contains five out of the ten largest trees in the world, in terms of wood volume. The Giant Forest is connected by the park's Generals Highway to Kings Canyon National Park's General Grant Grove, home to the General Grant tree among other sequoias. The park's Giant Sequoia forests are part of 202,430 acres (81,921 ha) of old-growth forests shared by Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Indeed, the parks preserve a landscape that still resembles the southern Sierra Nevada before Euro-American settlement.

Kings Canyon National Park is a U.S. National Park in the southern Sierra Nevada, east of Fresno, California. The park was established in 1940 and covers 462,901 acres (187,329 ha). It incorporated General Grant National Park, established in 1890 to protect the General Grant Grove of Giant Sequoias. The park is north of and contiguous with the Sequoia National Park


Forestiere Underground Gardens in Fresno

FORESTIERE patterned his underground world after the ancient catacombs of his native land. The Roman arches dominate the underground landscape while the stonework provides stability and beauty. But unlike the dark catacombs that protected the remnants of the lifeless, Forestiere designed well-lit courtyards and grottos to bring forth the radiance and vitality of life. This network of rooms, grottos, and passageways once honeycombed almost 10 acres, and numbered nearly 100.

FORESTIERE preferred his cool underground lifestyle to that lived by most people of his time—above ground in hot, wooden, “sweat boxes.” His unique home included a parlor with fireplace, a summer and a winter bedroom, a courtyard with a bath and a fish pond, and a kitchen with all the conveniences of his era. This earthen home was
his friend and protector from all types of inclement weather.

Amazing Underground Sights and Wonders

It has been said that “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” Every twist and turn throughout this delightful underground maze brings a new beauty to behold. The stonework, the scallop-shaped seats carved into the walls and passageways, and the lush greenery of trees/ grapevines growing beneath the ground proclaim Forestiere’s
love for life, nature, and the divine Creator of it all.

ESCAPING the intense Fresno heat is as easy as descending a flight of stairs. Step down into the cool, welcoming arms of nature-shaded rooms and courtyards. Amazingly, the underground climates here (micro-climates) change depending on the location. Temperatures can range anywhere from 10 to 20 degrees from above ground, or just a couple of degrees from one spot to another. This photo shows a citrus tree (once bearing 7 varieties of citrus) growing at a second underground level (about 22 feet down). The different levels also affect the timing of tree blossom appearance and protect them from frost.

Note: This is No.15 ( Part 1) of a series of articles on places that the Katague family had visited or resided in US since 1960.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Escape to Manila-Book Review and Summary

Escape to Manila
I just finished reading this book and I found it worth my time. If you are a history enthusiast, teacher or student, this is a must read book for you. Here's a summary of the book : Escape To Manila: From Nazi Tyranny To Japanese Terror by Frank Ephraim

With the rise of Nazism in the 1930s more than a thousand European Jews sought refuge in the Philippines, joining the small Jewish population of Manila. When the Japanese invaded the islands in 1941, the peaceful existence of the barely settled Jews filled with the kinds of uncertainties and oppression they thought they had left behind. In this book Frank Ephraim, who fled to Manila with his parents, gathers the testimonies of thirty-six refugees, who describe the difficult journey to Manila, the lives they built there upon their arrival, and the events surrounding the Japanese invasion. Combining these accounts with historical and archival records, Manila newspapers, and U.S. government documents, Ephraim constructs a detailed account of this little-known chapter of world history.
Monument in Israel honoring President Manuel L Quezon and the Filipino people for helping many German Jews to come to the Philippines to escape from interment and eventual death by the Nazi's
Here's a review of the book by Michael Valdivielso. He gave it 5 stars out of 6 Mixture of history and first-person stories..., September 12, 2003

In this book Mr. Frank Ephraim not only tells us about the history of "Manilaners", Jews who fled Europe and headed to the Philippines, but also tells us about the Jewish community already there. His book is detailed, with both the facts of history AND the emotions and actions of the people themselves. We never feel that the Jews, Filipinos, Americans and Japanese are faceless puppets.

He starts off giving us a very complete history of the Philippines, then focusing on Europe and the problems that Jews had living under the growing power of the Third Reich. Soon we are following the resourceful refugees to Manila. We watch them start a new life, with the help of those around them, showing us the support and empathy that the Jews and Filipinos had for the newcomers.

Then the Japanese invaded and he shows us how everyone came even closer together, doing everything to live a normal life. We learn about daily life, the struggle for food and trying to understand how to deal with the Japanese while they also deal with the big long term problems, like trying to find schools for their children and continuing their form of worship under the paranoid eyes of the Japanese.

Of course, the book ends with the American invasion, the bloody fight for Manila and the aftermath. The author does nothing to hide the tragic results of the battle or the fact that even when peace came the Jews still had problems just making ends meet.

This is a book for anybody into Asian history, Jewish history, the history of the Philippines, World War Two and Japanese history. A must for any history library, really, touching on many subjects.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Highway 1 from San Francisco to Mendocino

The Rugged Mendocino Coast
In the late 1980's Macrine and I (no kids this time) drove Highway 1 from San Francisco to Mendocino just for one time to celebrate a wedding anniversary. On our way we stopped at St Orres in Gualala along Highway 1 for lunch. We stayed overnight at the Victorian Mendocino Hotel that was constructed in 1878 and restored in 1975. The Hotel had 51 deluxe accommodations. It is luxurious, and romantic. There are garden suites and cottages situated on two acres of botanical gardens with fireplaces. Italian marble vanities, private balconies and spectacular ocean or garden views are featured in some rooms. Antiques, fine art, down comforters, stained glass and Oriental carpets, are some of the luxuries provided by the Hotel.
St Orres at Gualala, California
St. Orres is a combination 4-star restaurant with dramatic dining room setting, lodge, and series of cottages located on the Mendocino coast about 3 hours north of San Francisco.
Stinson Beach Near Muir Woods
I loved to drive the kids and Macrine to Point Reyes National Park almost once a month during the summer months. We purchased fresh oysters at Point Reyes and swam in Stinson Beach and Bolinas Bay (away from the Nude Beach because we have small children at that time). We also drove around the Muir Woods National Park, Mt Tamalpais and around Marin County and back to Pinole, Contra Costa County where we resided.
Muir Woods National Park
We ate lunch at Sausalito and Tiburon every now then. We went to Bodega Bay a couple of times just for sight seeing. We drove to Santa Rosa, Guerneville, Napa, Geyservile, Glenn Ellen and surrounding areas. I was young and adventurous at that time and I really did not mind driving just for sightseeing. The kids love it. Today, I hate to drive especially at night. What 30 years of time passing by can do to the human body and spirit.
Point Reyes National Seashores

Note: This is No.14 (Part 1) of a series of article on the places that the Katague Family had visited or resided in US since 1960.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Santa Cruz and Monterey Vicinity and Pacific Coast Highway

Lone Cypress Tree in Monterey-the most photographed tree in California

We have been to Santa Cruz, Carmel and Monterey vicinity a couple of times in the early 1980's. We visited the Santa Cruz Board walk, the Monterey aquarium, Cannery Row and the 17 mile drive in Carmel on scenic route Highway 1. A winding road that leads through an exclusive neighborhood and past scenic coastal views to the famed Pebble Beach, the 17-Mile Drive is one experience the Katague family will not forget. Our leisurely drive on the Pacific Coast Highway from Monterey to Los Angeles that took us two days is one experience that we will never forget.

Here's a short review about the 17-mile drive from a satisfied tourist.
Visiting 17-Mile Drive-A must for Visitors

The 17-Mile Drive is fundamentally a road that passes through an exclusive neighborhood. You'll pay a fee (per car) to drive on it and motorcycles are not allowed. Despite what you may read elsewhere, the drive from the Highway 1 Gate to the Carmel Gate is approximately 17 miles. If you enter and/or leave through different gates, the distance may be different.

Once you get inside, you'll find signs and red-painted dashed lines on the pavement to help you follow the 17-Mile Drive route. The road winds through a forested area and along the oceanfront, passing three golf courses, two luxury hotels and the famed Lone Cypress tree. The guide map you get at the gate will give a brief description of each point of interest.

If you want to picnic along the 17-Mile Drive, stop at the Safeway store at the intersection of Highway 1 and Rio Road to pick up supplies or try the 5th Avenue Deli (between San Carlos & Dolores) in downtown Carmel. You can also buy picnic goodies along the drive at the Pebble Beach Market next to The Lodge at Pebble Beach. Best picnic spots are between Point Joe and Seal Rock and you'll find picnic tables at many stops. Local seagulls roost on the tables when no one is around, so you may want to bring something to spread over the table before you eat.

Even though it's written on the bottom of the 17-Mile Drive entry fee receipt, it's a little-known fact that you can get a refund. If you spend more than $25 at any of the Pebble Beach Company restaurants along the 17-Mile Drive, they'll deduct the fee from your bill. We recommend Roy's restaurant at the Inn at Spanish Bay for their great views and service. Their prices are also much more reasonable than the Lodge at Pebble Beach, and after the fee was subtracted, our lunch bill was only a few dollars more than a mediocre breakfast we had in Carmel the previous day.

Here's some of Monterey's county tourist destinations for you to consider.
"Visit Monterey and see the amazing Monterey Bay Aquarium, as well as Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row, made famous by Nobel Prize-winning Salinas writer John Steinbeck. Experience the legendary golf courses of Pebble Beach. Take a California wine country vacation in Carmel Valley, Soledad or Salinas Valley, or go art gallery hopping in beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea or buzzing Sand City. For an outdoor experience, hike the wild trails of Big Sur, go surfing in Moss Landing, or watch the hang gliders in Marina and Seaside. Dine in centrally located Del Rey Oaks, and relax in an old-fashioned, seaside home town among the Victorian cottages and Monarch butterflies of Pacific Grove. Monterey County is your destination for a perfect California vacation".

With regards to Santa Cruz ,the board walk is too touristy, but fireworks on the beach during July 4th is fun if you do not mind the crowds.
Fireworks at Santa Cruz Beach

Scenic Pacific Coast Highway Drive

My wife and I have driven scenic California Highway 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles with a stop at San Luis Obispo and the Hearst Castle. This experience offered us, the best American coastal scenery in our life time. My next posting will be our leisurely trip from San Francisco to Mendocino passing through Point Reyes National Park and Bodega Bay in the late 1980's.( Posting Number 14).

Some of California's best views lie along the coast road between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The most dramatic scenery is on the stretch between Carmel and San Simeon.

The Pacific Coast Highway – officially designated California Highway 1 – is a favorite route for visitors exploring the state. The 485 miles between San Francisco and Los Angeles is one of the country's best scenic drives. A minimum of two days is needed to see a few of the attractions and allow for plenty of stops to admire the beautiful views along the Pacific Coast Highway.

The coastal scenery is most dramatic on the stretch between Carmel and San Simeon. Here are the highlights of this central section of the Pacific Coast Highway drive.

1.Carmel-by-the-Sea: The actor Clint Eastwood once served a term as mayor of this purposely quaint town 4 miles south of Monterey. It has a beautiful setting on the headlands of Carmel Bay, sloping gently down to the ocean shore. In order to preserve its character, city ordinances forbid such things as parking meters, streetlamps, franchise restaurants and even postal deliveries. The result is a picturesque – and wealthy – town with designer shops and numerous art galleries. Among the best is the Weston Gallery on Sixth Street, with works by famous photographers such as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, a former resident. At the end of Ocean Avenue, Carmel Beach is a peaceful spot with beautiful white sand backed by pine-covered cliffs. Further along, Carmel River State Beach has a lagoon and nature preserve harboring many bird species. At both beaches, strong tides and dangerous currents make swimming hazardous. Sea otters and sea lions can be spotted at Point Lobos State Reserve, 2 miles south. The point is also a good place to see migrating California gray whales, especially in January, April and the beginning of May.

2. Carmel Mission: Slightly inland along the river, this was the second in the chain of California missions. Established in 1770, it served as the headquarters for Northern California. Father Junípero Serra, founder of the missions, is buried at the foot of the altar. The mission has been carefully restored to its original plan. The church features an ornate Gothic arch behind the altar, while reconstructed rooms such as the kitchen and Father Serra's simple cell depict mission life.

3.Big Sur: The 100-mile stretch of coast known as Big Sur is the highlight of the Pacific Coast Highway. Here, Highway 1 runs dramatically along a narrow, winding route carved out of the cliffs, high above the sea. Below are rocky coves and crashing waves; inland are steep mountains, canyons and dense forests. Bixby Creek Bridge, 260 feet high and 700 feet long, was the world's largest single-arch span for many years after its construction in 1932.
Few people live in this rugged region. The town of Big Sur is really just a long string of restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations. A cluster of restaurants and shops surround the resort of Nepenthe, tucked away behind oak trees. Most of the coastline is protected in several state parks, which offer hiking trails, campsites, wilderness areas and access to sandy beaches and rocky shores. These include Andrew Molera State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and Jade Cove.

Note: This is No.13( Part 1) of a series of articles on places that the David B. Katague family have either resided or visited in US since 1960. No. 14 will be our trip from San Francisco to Mendocino passing through Point Reyes National Park and Bodega Bay.
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